SERAP to Buhari: Take steps to curb rising political violence now
By John Eche
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has tasked President Muhammadu Buhari to take steps now to curb the rising spate of political violence in the country.
There have continued to be witnessed different incidents of politically-related violence ahead of presidential, gubernatorial and legislative elections scheduled to hold in February and March 2023.
Troubled by these incidents, SERAP is asking the President “to direct the Inspector-General of Police Usman Baba to promptly, thoroughly, and transparently investigate the reported attack on the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, after a rally in Katsina state, and other cases of election-related intimidation, harassment and violence across the country.”
The civil society watchdog also wants the President to “direct Mr Usman Baba and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN to name and shame any politicians and other perpetrators of election-related intimidation, harassment, and violence, and to ensure that they are promptly brought to justice.”
SERAP equally wants the President to lend his voice and “caution state governors to end reported suppression of campaigns by opposition parties within their states, and to ensure the security and safety of opposition candidates, members and supporters.”
It will be recalled that Mr Peter Obi was reportedly attacked after a rally in Katsina with heavy stones while on his way to the airport. This attack is coming on the heels of reported 339 incidents of election-related intimidation, harassment and violence across the country in 2022.
In the letter dated 28 January, 2023 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said, “Escalating cases of election-related intimidation, harassment, and violence are fundamentally inconsistent with the principle of free and fair elections.”
According to the group, “Investigating and prosecuting these cases, and bringing perpetrators to justice would stop further violence, facilitate free and fair elections, and encourage Nigerians to freely exercise their right to vote.”
“Investigating and prosecuting these cases would also promote and ensure the rule of law and democratic tradition in the country.”
The letter, read in part, “The Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Electoral Act, and the country’s international human rights obligations recognize as fundamental the right to participate in one’s government, and the free and fair elections that implement it.”
“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”
“Election-related intimidation, harassment and violence are grave violations of the rights of Nigerians to participate in the democratic process and free and fair elections, as well as a range of other human rights.”
Lagos, Ebonyi, Katsina and Imo are some states where election-related violence have been reported in the past few days.
The Buhari era has been seen as most disappointing in its handling of the security situation in the land given the very high expectations the populace had of it during its entry in May, 2015/
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria